A firm awarded a government contract to provide extra ferry services has used website terms and conditions apparently intended for a takeaway food firm.

Seaborne Freight was given the £13.8m contract to run a freight service between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Its original terms and conditions  advised customers to check goods before “agreeing to pay for any meal/order”.

The government said the section was “put up in error” and was now correct.

In a statement, the Department for Transport said: “Before any contract was signed, due diligence on Seaborne Freight was carried out both by senior officials at the Department for Transport, and highly reputable independent third party organisations with significant experience and expertise into Seaborne’s financial, technical and legal underpinning.”

The government has been criticised for awarding the contract to a firm which has never run a ferry service and has no ships.

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Andy McDonald, has written a letter to Secretary of State Chris Grayling suggesting the company was established “in an opportunistic manner” and suggesting that the decision to award it a contract did not reflect well on the government’s approach to Brexit contingency planning.

Mr McDonald requested further details concerning Seaborne Freight’s ability to fulfil the contract and over how the tendering process was conducted.